Friday, January 31, 2014


Sexy Saturdays with Andrea and Autumn is a weekly meme created to spread the word about spicy reads. 

Participating blogs:
The Autumn Review

**If you would like to participate, let us know and we will happily add you on.**

Series: n/a
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 8/6/10
Format: ebook
Pages: 281
Source: Purchase
Rating: 5 stars

Willing Victim
For the past couple years Laurel’s been coasting, hiding in the backseat while her life drifts off course. Then one summer afternoon a tall, built bruiser named Flynn strides in and steers her straight into an infatuation she never saw coming.

Flynn introduces Laurel to things she’s never imagined—to the violent but exciting realm of the underground boxing circuit, to rough sex and even rougher role-playing, and to an attraction she craves even as it intimidates her. As Flynn invites her deeper into his world and his life, Laurel has to make a choice—let fear keep her holed up where it’s safe, or take a chance and fight for the man who makes her feel more alive than she’d dreamed possible.

Reader Advisory: Although all sex acts are 100-percent consensual, Willing Victim contains role-playing scenarios that may upset some readers who are sensitive about rape, even in a simulated capacity.

 First Impression... Willing Victim is the mostly highly recommended to me, of all Cara McKenna's books. (My favorite of hers is Unbound.) I'm so ready for more from this truly brilliant author.

The Story... Willing Victim is a departure from the other McKenna books I've read. This is the story of Laurel, a lonely, aimless woman who meets the most striking man, Flynn, in a park in Boston. Though she feels she shouldn't be, Laurel is insanely attracted to the rough, gruff, HUGE Flynn, pursues him, and they strike up a tentative friendship.

Laurel wants to know Flynn better, but he's not sure she'll like what she finds. Turns out Flynn, who boxes for sport, also likes to pound out his aggressions in bed as well. Laurel is intrigued, and decides to explore her darker side with Flynn.

The Characters... McKenna's characters are always, absolutely, glorious. Flynn and Laurel are average people, with average jobs, backgrounds, lives. He is not an exceeding charming, arrogant, and roguish billionaire. In fact, Flynn's not that charming at all in the beginning. He's built like a sexy beast, has a blue collar job, and problems like everyone else.

Same with Laurel. She's a engineer by degree, but she's a bit lost at the time, and works as a waitress. She has roommates, no car, and isn't portrayed as a glamazon. She could be any one of the women who pick up Willing Victim and turn the pages.

Despite how "regular" Laurel and Flynn are, they are not boring. How is that possible? I'm not sure, other than the fact that despite the regular appearance and lives, Flynn and Laurel have an thoughtful and sexy story to tell. It's like we've honed in on this particular moment in their lives, and it's freaking intriguing.

The Writing... As always, Cara McKenna's words are brilliant and gorgeous and so compelling. I was discussing with my friend Karen, a fellow fan, about why this particular author can take stories that we think we won't or can't get on board with - in this case, really rough and forced sex role play. And despite hesitation, I not only could accept where the characters were coming from, but I really got it. It was insightful, and with such deep characterization, I understood. Her books are not only sexy physically, but also cerebrally. Cos we all know the way to a lady's heart, or body, is through her mind, yeah?

The Heat... I'm not even sure it's safe or responsible to say how sexy I found Willing Victim to be. Let's just go with my eloquent response of "UNFFF."

(Just FYI: my friend Erin says you can tell how hot I think a book is by the numbers of "Fs" I put in my UNF. Three F's, that's pretty much my highest compliment.)

In the End... Willing Victim is another brilliant gem of a story from Cara McKenna. I'm seriously believing there is nothing she can write that I won't love.

Favorite Quotes:
  "Are you part of the BDSM scene or whatever?" Laurel asked.
  He made an exasperated noise. "I can't stand that shit. They make everything so fucking complicated. You might as well be one of those Civil-fucking-War..." He twirled his hand, searching for the word.
  He snapped his fingers at her. "Three points."

  "I was just thinking, when I first met you, you seemed really... obvious. And you're not. Not just how you are in bed," she said, rambling. "On the outside you're like uber-macho, Mr. Toolbelt-and-Boxing Gloves with your bossy accent and your attitude and your...tallness."
  "My tallness?"
  "And your body and everything. But you're really something else on the inside. Sorry," she said. "That sounded was more squishy than I meant it to. Should I insult you, to take the edge off all that squishiness?"
  "Nah. I'll just take it out on you next time."

  She smiled to herself. "I'm sure you will."
  She couldn't care less what people wondered, though--she just wanted to be seen walking beside this man, knowing what his body was capable of, wishing everyone else knew too.

Purchase Willing Victim
Series: n/a
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Intermix
Publication Date: 4/16/13
Format: ebook
Pages: 281
Source: Purchase
Rating:  5 stars

After HoursA dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man…

Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.

Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.

What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.

If I use the same format as my review for Willing Captive, this review for After Hours would seem copied, nearly word-for-word. It's not that the two books are exactly alike, they're not really. But they had a similar, gritty vibe, and the feelings they each gave me were very similar.

Actually, the books are alike in a couple of very important ways. Both feature ordinary people who, with McKenna's always insightful and thoughtful characterization, became super compelling characters. Kelly Roback (Jesus, Kelly Roback) is an orderly at a psychiatric hospital, not exactly your typical romantic hero's occupation, huh? But really, who needs a seductive rich guy who drives expensive cars and sweet talks, when you have a big, built, quiet, compelling hunk of a man with a penetrating look at a sexuality that just won't quit. I'm not even joking, here. I'll take the Kelly Robacks (or Michael Flynns) of the world any day. What I love about the way McKenna writes her characters is, they are authentic, through and through. Even though tough guy Kelly falls for Erin, he doesn't suddenly begin to sound an eloquent and expressive man such as Didier (from Curio) or a Dom/businessman. The feelings come out jarringly, almost unwillingly, but they come out in Kelly's way.

Same with Erin Coffey. She's just a twenty-nine year old nurse with a rough background and uncertain future. She's got walls around her; massive, massive walls. She doesn't give her love or her body freely, making Kelly earn her trust. Erin doesn't really play games, but she doesn't allow herself to fall for Kelly, at least freely. She has a hard time reconciling her feminist thoughts with the thought of needing a man. Kelly. Fearing an evitable heartbreak from a man who seems like those of her mother's past, Erin refuses to give in for so, so long. Fortunately, this man is worth falling for, as is she, but boy, is it a frustrating and sexy ride.

After Hours was quiet and thoughtful, very seductive look at two characters who realize "We got a little something between us, don't we?"

Favorite Quotes:
  "There are four things a real man has to be able to do for a woman."
  "Exactly how many man-lists do you have?"
  He let my wrist go and ticked the items off on his fingers. "Fix her car. Grill her a steak. Kick the ass of any guy who makes her cry. And fuck her so hard she wakes up half-crippled."

  His body was as powerful as ever, looking as strong and exciting and cut as it did in my fantasies. He owned me in smooth, explicit strokes. But it was the noises he made that had me aching. The tight grunt each time his hips met mine. There was a helplessness in that plaintive sound. Something that said, Let me in, a plea trying to pass for an order.

  "I don't know what I want yet, for the future. I just know I want...I want you to need me back," I whispered.
  "Sweetheart, I already do. I need you for what you let me be for you last night."

Purchase After Hours
Cara McKennaCara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. A little dark, a little funny, always emotional. She also writes red-hot romance under the name Meg Maguire. Her wonderful publishers are Ellora's Cave, Harlequin Blaze, Loose-Id, Penguin / Intermix, and Samhain. She loves writing sexy, character-driven stories about strong-willed men and women who keep each other on their toes, and bring one another to their knees.

Cara was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award nominee, and a 2012 Golden Leaf finalist.

Cara is represented by Laura Bradford, of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Before becoming a purveyor of red-hot romance and smart erotica, Cara was a record store bitch, a lousy barista, a decent designer, and an overly enthusiastic penguin handler.

Cara now writes full-time and lives north of Boston with her bearded husband. When she's not trapped in her own head she can usually be found in the kitchen, the coffee shop, or jogging around the nearest duck-filled pond. She is a very proud member of the Romance Writers of America® and her local New England Chapter.


Thursday, January 30, 2014


Wild Ones (The Lane, #1)Series: The Lane #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 1/13/13
Format: eARC
Pages: 156
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3 stars

Bri Martin likes her skirts too short, her heels too high, and trouble close at hand. So when big, brooding underground boxer Luke Turner comes into the bar where she works and starts a fight before she brings his first drink, she can't help being intrigued. Luke is everything she never wanted and everything she can't resist.

Soon, Luke is showing up everywhere Bri is, and she can't break free of his hold on her, nor does she want to. When her best friend turns on her, it's Luke who is there. When Luke's opponent comes after her to send Luke a message, it's he who comes to her rescue.

Before Bri knows it, she's caught in the midst of a rivalry between her boyfriend and her boss, both of whom are not content to settle their scores inside the ring. She swore she'd never live this life, so like the one she once ran from. But only by confronting her past can she decide where her future lies…and whether Luke can be a part of it.

First Impression... I haven't had the best luck with books about fighters lately. But, I do really like the cover, and at 156 pages, it's worth a shot.

The Story... After a tumultuous upbringing, Bri left her home and started a new life far away. With a job at a club and her friends, Bri has all she wants. She doesn't want a relationship, even when she meets the brooding and mysterious Luke. Luke, a boxer, doesn't especially want to start things up with the smart mouthed, tough Bri. This means, obviously, the two cannot stay away from one another. Bri doesn't like Luke's tough guy boxer lifestyle; Luke won't give up, and he doesn't like her living with her co-worker/roommate Jax. Add in the fact Luke's vicious opponent will do whatever it takes to bring him down, and you have a fairly intense story.

The Characters... Bri is a character who will likely rub a lot of readers the wrong way. She had a tough mouth and personality, which, fine by me. Her decision-making skills kind of stunk, with her seeming to be bound and determined to get mugged and/or beat up by continually going down dark, rough streets at night by herself. I definitely liked the side of Bri that it seemed only Luke Turner could bring out.

Luke was an interesting guy. He was a real tough guy. He didn't take Bri's crap, but gave as good as he got it. He was reluctant to get into a relationship with her, but didn't fight it. And I liked that. I liked that he was protective, even though he could be pretty abrupt.

Jax and Rosie were Bri's friends, and I have to say, I liked them both. If I thought Bri was rough, then she had nothing on Rosie, but she was hilarious. Jax, I felt sorry for him, in a way. It's always hard to see the nice guy lose.

The Writing... had a very interesting quality to it, one I've had a hard time defining. There were these really tough, loud characters, and yet the prose could be very melodic and sweet at times.

Could I Put Wild Ones Down? Honestly, I could have throughout the first seventy-five percent. It's not that I wasn't into the story, just that I felt a detachment. I liked them well enough but the characters weren't especially endearing, which I think made the difference for me.

In the End... Wild Ones was an interesting read for me. And no, I'm not even sure what I mean by that. I didn't love it, but I did like it. I would be interested in checking out the next book in the series.

Favorite Quotes:

  "You're so adorable. Every time I wonder why I bother associating with you, I remember it's because you say the most adorable things. You're like a monkey using a fork or reading Shakespeare. Just precious."
  I made a face at her in the mirror and she snickered as she fluffed her hair behind me. "There you go again. Just don't start throwing your shit, please. This top is new and I don't want poop on it."

  It wasn't love, not quite, but it was almost there and it was desperate and I didn't know how to put it into words. It was the back and forth of him, the hot and cold, it made me crazy, made me feel crazy, and sanity never felt more pointless than when I was with him. He was poison and a cure and I wanted him all the time and hated him occasionally and sometimes it was all at once, which just made me want him more.

About the authors

Kristine WyllysKristine Wyllys, who usually answers to, “Hey, You! With the Hair!” was born in the north and now resides in the northern version of the Carolinas. She lives in a farmhouse older than she is, with a bunch of property that makes her spontaneously break out in Dixie Chicks songs every time she looks out the back door. She's got babies, books, a boy that she fell in love with at 15, and a dog that might be a lesbian. She spends her spare time naming chickens after Harry Potter characters, breaking smart phones, and blogging.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Perfect Together (Serendipity's Finest, #3)Series: Serendipity's Finest #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 2/4/14
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

In the picturesque town of Serendipity, New York, three siblings have grown up in the shadow of their proud and respected police chief father. But what do love, fate, and fortune have in store for the next generation of Serendipity’s finest?

Tired of being the easygoing daughter, always ignored in favor of her high-maintenance sister, and no longer interested in being her fiancé’s trophy wife, Nicole Farnsworth calls off her wedding. All she wants is to be herself. And where better to find her destiny than Serendipity? The place where she met the one man who made her heart beat faster, and gave her the courage to reinvent her life—even if he doesn’t know it.

Officer Sam Marsden calls Serendipity home and he loves it there—even though his childhood sweetheart was stolen by his best friend. After such heartbreak, Sam fears he can’t trust his instincts when it comes to love. Yet he’s so tempted by Nicole, a woman he met only briefly but who has starred in his dreams ever since. For Nicole and Sam, opening their hearts one more time could change their lives forever. But who’ll be the first to take that chance?

First Impression... It's Carly Phillips, guys! I'm currently in the midst of a serious reading slump, and hope one of my long-time go-to authors can help me out.

The Story... Perfect Together is the third in the Serendipity's Finest series; a series I haven't started. But all is well because though I don't know the series history, Phillips casually intersperses the characters' background into the current plot.

Nicole makes the choice to break her engagement and move to Serendipity, a town that shouldn't feel like home, but does. There, she quickly becomes friends with Macy, a waitress and total fun sweetheart. She also reconnects with Sam, the cop who arrested, them befriended her when she was last in Serendipity. (It's a long story).

So now we're getting a love connection, and that's great! Except, Sam's been badly burned, and isn't keen to set himself up for heartbreak. Given her recent breakup, Nicole is reluctant too. Then we have her ex Tyler, coming to town to win her back, or is he? Because apparently Tyler's dad isn't exactly an ethical dude, and he's afraid Nicole knows the truth about his shady business dealings.

So here we are with a hopeful love match between Sam and Nicole, a "maybe" love match between Macy and Tyler (another long story and not awkward at all!), and Nicole possibly in danger from Tyler's dad's business associates.

The Characters... Nicole is a woman trying to find her way. Her life has been defined by her cold parents, a relationship she was pushed into, and a twin with serious mental health issues. I like that with Sam, she pushed for total honesty. She didn't want to force him into a relationship, but she wouldn't be strung along. Good girl.

Sam was a hot detective and obviously, a good guy. He has issues with letting the past go, but when push comes to shove, he totally gets on board. I love when book guys are all "No relationships. No commitments. Sex only." But when the right woman comes along, he sings a completely different tune. It's so funny to see a man reluctantly, yet effortlessly fall in love.

The secondary characters helped round out the story, with Macy and Tyler getting a fair amount of page time. We also have Sam's family to add to the fun. I particularly liked his siblings Mike and Erin.

The Writing... C'mon, this is Carly Phillips. I love the comfort of an author that consistently delivers charming, romantic and well-written stories that make me happy.

In the End... Romantic, Sexy, and Fun. Perfect Together was another enjoyable read from Carly Phillips.

Favorite Quote:

  As he took her hard, she was lost, and knew the last of her walls had crumbled. She'd always known she could fall hard for him even as she'd agreed to nothing serious between them. And as he played her body so well, bringing her over the edge once more, she took that final tumble into love.

The Serendipity Series
Perfect Fit (Serendipity's Finest, #1)  Perfect Fling (Serendipity's Finest, #2)  Perfect Stranger (Serendipity, #3.5; Serendipity's Finest, #2.5)  Perfect Together (Serendipity's Finest, #3)
(covers lead to GoodReads)

About the author
Carly PhillipsNew York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips tossed away her legal briefs and a career as an attorney to become a stay at home mom. Within the year, she turned her love of reading into an obsession with writing. Over 30 published novels later, Carly writes sexy contemporary small town romances, striking a balance between entertainment, humor and the emotion her readers have come to expect and enjoy.

Carly is a New York Times bestseller, USA Today Bestseller, Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and as of 2012, a Romance Writer’s of America RITA Nominee. In 2002, Carly’s novel, The Bachelor, became Kelly Ripa’s “Reading with Ripa” pick on Live with Regis and Kelly, making it the first romance ever chosen on a nationally televised book club.

Carly received her undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and is a graduate of Boston University School of Law (J.D.). To date, Carly has over thirty novels to her credit, all available wherever books are sold.

When not writing or playing online, Carly loves to read, occasionally to knit, and to spend time with her family. She lives in Purchase, New York with her husband, two daughters and her dogs, a soft coated wheaten terrier and a Havanese. Her dogs are prominently featured on her website and Facebook page.

 Webite  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter   |  Pinterest


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Sweet Thing (Sweet Thing, #1)Series: Sweet Thing #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 1/7/14
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 stars
"You have to teach your heart and mind how to sing together…then you'll hear the sound of your soul."

Mia Kelly thinks she has it all figured out. She's an Ivy League graduate, a classically trained pianist, and the beloved daughter of a sensible mother and offbeat father. Yet Mia has been stalling since graduation, torn between putting her business degree to use and exploring music, her true love.

When her father unexpectedly dies, she decides to pick up the threads of his life while she figures out her own. Uprooting herself from Ann Arbor to New York City, Mia takes over her father's café, a treasured neighborhood institution that plays host to undiscovered musicians and artists. She's denied herself the thrilling and unpredictable life of a musician, but a chance encounter with Will, a sweet, gorgeous, and charming guitarist, offers her a glimpse of what could be. When Will becomes her friend and then her roommate, she does everything in her power to suppress her passions-for him, for music-but her father's legacy slowly opens her heart to the possibility of something more.

A "heartbreaking and romantic" (Aestas Book Blog) debut, Sweet Thing explores the intensity and complexities of first love and self-discovery.

I wanted to read Sweet Thing from the moment I laid eyes on it. I mean, come on, there's a love story between friends, and music. Impossible for me to resist, right? And in those respects, Sweet Thing definitely delivered. But what I did not count on, was how much I would love a ridiculously charming, adorable man by the name of WILL RYAN.

"To love is brave and Will was the bravest person I knew." 

 Will Ryan....this man was absolutely, heartbreaking perfection. It's not often you come across a character like Will. He was utterly charming, handsome in a casual and approachable way, a musician with talent and standards beyond belief, soooo sweet and lovable, and has the type of personality that causes everyone to fall in love with him. He is a modern day man in black, and yet wears ironic and ridiculous t-shirts. He was a patient man, more patient than anyone should ever be. He is a man who recites poems like prayers and listens patiently, waiting for a sign. He was neurotic and eclectic and bizarre at times. Will was a total win. He was impossible not to love.

"I cried because I knew that if I gave myself to Will, I would be left in pieces...left behind. The only way I could hang on was to be his friend, even though every part of me wanted more.

Ohhhhhhh, Mia. You poor sweet, thick-headed girl. I adored you. You were such a brave and loving young woman. You had gone through a terrible time, and I admired your ability to keep moving and make a wonderful new life in New York. And how you frustrated me! Will Ryan was your roommate and best friend. It was clear to everyone in your life that this lovable, caring, and talented man was whole-heartedly in love with you, and yet you resist. I wanted to be mad at you, and at one point I sat my Kindle down and cursed at you. Until I remembered... you, Mia, were still searching for yourself. Trying to reconcile who you thought you should be with who you really are. Trying to maintain a friendship with the only man you love, because if he leaves, it will break you. And then, I just sat back and waited for you to come to the realizations that would move you from young lady who is lost and afraid, into a woman who has come into her own. It was quite an angsty but worthwhile ride. 

Sweet Thing was so different than what I expected. But if you ask me what I had expected going in, I'm not sure what I would say. Maybe I thought the story would be simpler? I don't want to give it away, but the Sweet Thing started with an enchanting and intriguing prologue. Then we moved along Mia's journey to discovering her true self and love for perfect Will, and then came full circle, and touched back to the beginning. And by that I mean, Carlino delivered a gorgeous and profound prologue, one that had me laughing with happiness and a little dazed by it's cleverness and perfection. I have to give the author a tremendous amount of credit because she did not take the easy path with the characters and their journey. And yes, I did get so frustrated with Mia and her changes of heart, but she remained true to Mia's character, and this made the payoff even sweeter. Sweet Thing could not have had a better, more satisfying conclusion. As it turns out, there will be an addition to Will and Mia's story, Sweet Little Thing. I am ridiculously giddy.

Sweet Thing, with it's sweeping love story, remarkable characters, and WILL RYAN, is a love story that stands out from the rest.

Favorite Quotes:

  Maybe it was fate that I sat next to her that day, or serendipity, divine intervention, who knows? However you look at, I got seated next to the first girl to ever really steal my heart. I was in love from that moment on.

  He's in love with you." She said it deadpan as she stared into my eyes, waiting for a response.
  "How do you know?" "I can tell and anyway, he told me. I believe his exact words were cosmic, soul-shattering, air in your lungs kind of love.”

   "So will you do this with me, Mia?" he said, looking hopeful. 
"Yes," I breathed. 
"And will you play music with me every day?"  "Yes."   

Purchase Links

About the author
Renée CarlinoRenee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.




 Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's WoW selection is...

This Side of SalvationSeries: Stand alone
Category/Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Publisher: 4/1/14
Publication Date: Simon Pulse

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

Why I'm Waiting ~ I am a HUGE fan of Jeri Smith-Ready. I've read almost all of her books, and have loved every single one. I'm sure this will be another great addition to her works.  

What are you waiting on this week?


Monday, January 27, 2014


Tessa Dare's "Romancing the Duke" releases today, and I am happy to share an excerpt and giveaway.
Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)Series: Castles Ever After #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 1/28/14
In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?

Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

“A sweet, fun nod to literary fandom, and two main characters who are perfect for each other yet never would have met if they weren’t each at a nadir in life’s journey.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dare’s first Castles Ever After historical provides a unique twist to a fairy tale, complete with an ancient castle, a damsel in distress, and a wounded hero […].”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[A] wickedly funny and soul-satisfyingly romantic novel, the perfect launch to Dare’s new Castles Ever After series.”

–Booklist (starred review)


A sneak peek of ROMANCING THE DUKE:

The driver pocketed her offering and touched his cap. “What was yer name again, miss?”

“Goodnight. Miss Izzy Goodnight.”

She waited to see if he would recognize it. Most of the literate people in England would, and a great many of their domestic servants, besides.

The driver only grunted. “Jes’ wanted to know it, in case someone comes around asking. If you’re never heard from again.”

Izzy laughed. She waited for him to laugh, too.

He didn’t.

Soon driver, team, and carriage were nothing more than the fading crunch of wheels on the road.

Izzy picked up her valise and walked through the barbican. A stone bridge carried her over what once had been a moat but now was only a slimy green trickle.

She’d done a bit of research in advance of her journey. There wasn’t much to read. Only that Gostley Castle had once been the seat of the Rothbury dukedom, in Norman times.

It didn’t look inhabited now. There was no glass in many of the windows. No lights in them, either. There should have been a portcullis that dropped to bar the entrance—but there was nothing there. No door, no gate.

She walked through the archway and into the central, open courtyard.

“Lord Archer?” Her voice died in the air. She tried again. “Lord Archer, are you here?” This time, her call got a respectable echo off the flagstones. But no answer.

She was alone.

Dizzied from her strange surroundings and weak with hunger, Izzy closed her eyes. She coerced air into her lungs.

You cannot faint. Only ninnies and consumptive ladies swoon, and you are neither.

It started to rain. Fat, heavy drops of summer rain—the kind that always struck her as vaguely lewd and debauched. Little potbellied drunkards, those summer raindrops, chortling on their way to earth and crashing open with glee.

She was getting wet, but the alternative—seeking shelter inside one of the darkened arches—was less appealing by far.

A rustling sound made her jump and wheel. Just a raven taking wing. She watched it fly over the castle wall and away.

She laughed a little. Really. It was too much. A vast, uninhabited castle, rain, and now ravens, too? Someone was playing her a cruel trick.

Then she glimpsed a man across the courtyard, standing in a darkened archway.

And if he was a trick, he wasn’t a cruel one.

There were things in nature that took their beauty from delicate structure and intricate symmetry. Flowers. Seashells. Butterfly wings. And then there were things that were beautiful for their wild power and their refusal to be tamed. Snowcapped mountains. Churning thunderclouds. Shaggy, sharp-toothed lions.

This man silhouetted before her? He belonged, quite solidly, in the latter category.

So did the wolf sitting at his heel.

It couldn’t be a wolf, she told herself. It had to be some sort of dog. Wolves had long been hunted to extinction. The last one in England died ages ago.

But then . . . she would have thought they’d stopped making men like this, too.

He shifted his weight, and a slant of weak light revealed the bottom half of his face. She glimpsed a wide, sensual slash of a mouth. A squared jaw, dark with whiskers. Overlong hair brushed his collar. Or it would have, if he had a collar. He wore only an open-necked linen shirt beneath his coat. Buckskin breeches hugged him from slim hips to muscled thighs . . . and from there, his legs disappeared into a pair of weathered, dusty Hessians.

Oh, dear. She did have such a weakness for a pair of well-traveled boots. They made her desperate to know everywhere they’d been.

Her heart beat faster. This didn’t help with her lightheadedness problem.

“Are you Lord Archer?” she asked.

“No.” The word was low, unforgiving.

The beast at his heel growled.

“Oh. I-is Lord Archer here?”


“Are you the caretaker?” she asked. “Are you expecting him soon?”

“No. And no.”

Was that amusement in his voice?

She swallowed hard. “I received a letter. From Lord Archer. He asked me to meet him here on this date regarding some business with the late Earl of Lynforth’s estate. Apparently he left me some sort of bequest.” She extended the letter with a shaking hand. “Here. Would you care to read it for yourself?”

That wide mouth quirked at one corner. “No.”

Izzy retracted the letter as calmly as she could manage and replaced it in her pocket.

He leaned one shoulder against the archway. “Aren’t we going to continue?”

“Continue what?”

“This game.” His voice was so low it seemed to crawl to her over the flagstones, then shiver up through the soles of her feet. “Am I a Russian prince? No. Is my favorite color yellow? No. Would I object if you were to come inside and remove every stitch of your damp clothing?” His voice did the impossible. It sank lower. “No.”

He was just making sport of her now.

Izzy clutched her valise to her chest. She didn’t want Snowdrop getting wet. “Do you treat all your visitors this way?”

Idiot. She cursed herself and braced for another low, mocking “no.”

He said, “Only the pretty ones.”

Oh, Lord. She ought to have guessed it earlier. The fatigue and hunger had done something to her brain. She could almost believe the castle, the ravens, the sudden appearance of a tall, dark, handsome man. But now he was flirting with her?

She had to be hallucinating.

The rain beat down, impatient to get from the clouds to the earth. Izzy watched drops pinging off the flagstones. Each one seemed to chisel a bit more strength from her knees.

The castle walls began to spin. Her vision went dark at the edges.

 “I . . . Forgive me, I . . .”

Her valise dropped to the ground.

The beast snarled at it.

The man moved out from the shadows.

And Izzy fainted dead away.


Could your “castle” use a pick-me-up? Enter to win a $50.00 BED BATH & BEYOND gift card below for a home improvement happy-ever-after of your own!
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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, just do as following:

·Grab your current read
·Open to a random page
·Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
·Be careful not to include any spoilers so as not to ruin the book for others.

Make sure to share the title and the author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR piles.
Perfect Together (Serendipity's Finest, #3)Series: Serendipity's Finest #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 2/4/14

In the picturesque town of Serendipity, New York, three siblings have grown up in the shadow of their proud and respected police chief father. But what do love, fate, and fortune have in store for the next generation of Serendipity’s finest?

Tired of being the easygoing daughter, always ignored in favor of her high-maintenance sister, and no longer interested in being her fiancé’s trophy wife, Nicole Farnsworth calls off her wedding. All she wants is to be herself. And where better to find her destiny than Serendipity? The place where she met the one man who made her heart beat faster, and gave her the courage to reinvent her life—even if he doesn’t know it.

Officer Sam Marsden calls Serendipity home and he loves it there—even though his childhood sweetheart was stolen by his best friend. After such heartbreak, Sam fears he can’t trust his instincts when it comes to love. Yet he’s so tempted by Nicole, a woman he met only briefly but who has starred in his dreams ever since. For Nicole and Sam, opening their hearts one more time could change their lives forever. But who’ll be the first to take that chance?
My Teaser ~
  She exhaled and his gaze was drawn to her pink, parted lips. He already knew what she tasted like. He knew how soft her mouth was beneath his, what kind of little sounds she made in the back of her throat when that kiss got out of control. No way was she about to walk away.
So what do you think? I really enjoyed Perfect Together; my review posts later this week.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Unraveled (Woodlands, #3)Series: Woodlands #3
Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pear Tree LLC
Publication Date: 1/20/14
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Rating: 4.5 stars

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?
First Impression.... Oh. Looks like I have another great Woodlands book in my hands.
The Story... The Woodlands series takes a turn in a slightly new direction with Gray Phillips, not officially a member of the Woodlands gang, but a close friend and fellow Marine to Bo and Noah. Gray is at a crossroads, at a point where he must decide whether to reenlist in the Marines, or join civilian life. Burned badly by an ex, Gray is not interested in relationships, and then he meets Sam Anderson. Sam lost her husband in the war two years ago, and has spent the time since barely existing. Meeting Gray for her is like waking up. He's everything she thinks she never wants again, but can't stay away from. Gray feels the same, but his past may destroy his future.
The Characters... Gray was introduced in Unspoken, when Bo and AM visited him in San Diego. He didn't have a lot of page time, but he did make a big impression on me. When I learned Unraveled was his book, I was very intrigued. That interest paid off, because Gray was a very engaging and likable character. He has a strong dilemma on his hands, with his choice between his duty to his fellow Marines and the stress of the lifestyle. I was honestly prepared to be more frustrated by him, given his anti-relationship stance, but Frederick gave much insight to his thoughts and doubts and feelings.

Sam Anderson is a character that even the hardest-hearted readers will find impossible not to like. She's a young war widow who is exhausted by being defined by her husband's death. Her sense of obligation to her husband's memory is admirable, and the author did a brilliant job of conveying her pain, exhaustion, and struggles in moving ahead. I did love that we got to meet Sam at a point in which she was beginning to be ready to move on, and not in the midst of full-on grief. She was just a really well-developed and endearing character.
The Writing... I think Frederick is an incredible writer. Her style is a bit quiet or subdued, with great prose. The dual point-of-view was done well, with each character having a distinct voice. And I really love how she writes her men. They're Alpha, without being Alphaholes.
The Heat... No doubt about it, Unraveled is definitely the steamiest book in the Woodlands series. And when I say steamy, I mean WOAH. Gray and Sam have a great chemistry. The intensity and frequency of their...interactions was on par with the situation and feelings moving through them.
Was Unraveled Un-putdownable? It took me approximately two paragraphs to fall into this story. It's not that the opening was especially attention-grabbing. It's more that Frederick is a great writer, and I felt like I was slipping into the comfort of an author who's never let me down. Invaluable.
In the End... Unraveled is a great addition to the Woodlands series, possibly my favorite. If you love this series, you'll love this installment. If you haven't tried the series, wait no longer.

Favorite Quote:

  "I'm going to kiss you now." His voice was deep, rough and matched the rest of his thoroughly masculine body.
  "I know," I whispered back. And I wanted that kiss from Gray who ordinarily wouldn't be my type at all. I wanted it more than I wanted breath. When his mouth molded against mine, it felt like bliss, as if my whole cold body had been submerged into a warm bath. If I thought I was engulfed before it was nothing like I felt at that moment. My entire world--my thoughts, my feelings, my senses--were full of him.

The Woodlands Series
Undeclared (Woodlands, #1)  Unspoken (Woodlands, #2)  Unraveled (Woodlands, #3)
(covers lead to GoodReads page)

My Reviews
Purchase the Woodlands Series

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Saturday, January 25, 2014


THE WEEKLY REWIND is a weekly post in which I recap the bookish awesomeness from the past week, and post a book haul.
 Book Haul
For Review:
Tempting FateSweet Thing (Sweet Thing, #1)A Little Too Hot (A Little Too Far, #3)The Principle of Desire (Science of Temptation, #3)Loving Cara (Love Under the Big Sky, #1)A Matchless Romance (Aisle Bound, #4)Into You
For Review Consideration:
My husband actually whimpered a little bit when he carried two boxes of books in. To be fair, I did too. I honestly don't know what to do with everything.
From Penguin/Berkley/NAL - Print
Connected (Connections, #1)Perfect Together (Serendipity's Finest, #3)Letting Go (Surrender Trilogy, #1)Dangerously Bound (Dangerous, #1)Melting the Ice (Play by Play, #7)Bound to be DirtyJaded (Walkers Ford, #2)Bound (The Mastered Series, #1)
From Harper Collins - Print
How to LoveNo One Else Can Have YouThe Book of Love (The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, #2)The Secret Sisterhood of HeartbreakersThe Beginning of Everything
The Rebound Girl (Getting Physical, #1)Savor (Billionaire Bachelors Club, #3)It's Not Over (The Do Over, #2)Instant Attraction (Wilder, #1)
Find Her, Keep Her: A Martha's Vineyard Love StoryBaby Bonanza
Thanks to
This Week's Reviews
Next Week's Reviews
  • Unraveled by Jen Frederick
  • Perfect Together by Carly Phillips
  • Wild Ones by Kristine Wyllys
  • Willing Victim/After Hours by Cara McKenna
When You Were Mine  Wanderlove  The Story of Us
(covers lead to GoodReads page)
I've only read Wanderlove (I now have a signed copy), it's gorgeous.

US only, must be 13+ years of age to enter.

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